About Me

I am an ecologist with a keen interest in understanding how human land-use can be made more analagous to natural ecosystems. I am most interested in how fire and grazing can be managed in rangelands around the world to enhance ecoystem service delivery and conserve biodiversity while ensuring sustainable rural livelihoods.

I grew up on my family’s farm in northwestern Iowa, USA. I studied biology as an undergraduate, with specific interests in prairie reconstruction and ornithology.

I spent a year in Southern Africa after graduation, conducting independent research on game ranching operations in Namibia and Zambia. Over the course of that year I visited cities, conservation areas, beaches, and bars throughout Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, and Ghana.

After becoming interested in how prescribed fire could be used to enhance the sustainability of grazing systems, I joined a team of Iowa State researchers using patch-burn grazing on several pastures in southern Iowa. I earned my Master’s in the Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture, and stayed on to get my PhD in EEB.

I had the pleasure of spending two years as a post-doc teaching at the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tennessee. I developed courses with titles like “Ecological Integrity in Agriculture” and “The Development of Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic”. Despite being in the woods of Appalachia, we started a patch-burn grazing project that involved several students and produced about 6,000 lbs of beef for the campus dining hall and a couple peer-reviewed papers.

From Sewanee I had the honor to spend nine months in the Department of Grassland Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. I started a project on fuels and (modeling) fire behaviour in the montane grasslands of the Drakensberg and got to meet colleagues and visit conservation areas and ranches across the country.

Before I left for South Africa I had accepted a tenure-track position in the Range Science Program at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota. I earned tenure in 2020. My work at NDSU built on prior interests in using fire and grazing to promote rangeland heterogeneity, although I began to focus on the livestock production angle, beyond wildlife management and conservation. I also returned to human dimensions, studying rural landowner perceptions of fracking in the Bakken oil patch, and then again in South Africa. I’ve since started a project on social barriers to prescribed fire use in the Northern Plains.

I’ve recently accepted a Research Ecologist position with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Miles City, Montana. I’m excited to continue studying wildland fire science and the ecology of rangeland grazing systems at Ft. Keogh.


Prior positions

Associate Professor of Range Science, School of Natural Resource Sciences, North Dakota State University

Assistant Professor of Range Science, School of Natural Resource Sciences, North Dakota State University

Faculty Fulbright Scholar, Grassland Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Post-doctoral fellow, Environmental Studies, The University of the South, Sewanee, TN

Graduate Research Assistant, Natural Resource Ecology & Management, Iowa State University

Visting Scholar, Environmental Studies, Brown University


PhD Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, 2011: Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

MSc Sustainable Agriculture, 2008: Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

BA Biology, 2004: Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa

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